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Graduate Journal aspeers Calls for Papers on "American Memories" by 31 Oct 2012
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aspeers: emerging voices in american studies
“Never forget.” Shortly after the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, this phrase, along with pictures of the Twin Towers set against the backdrop of an American ﬂag, appeared on T-shirts, coﬀee mugs, mouse pads, and a whole host of other marketable goods. In many ways, these cultural artifacts and their treatment showcase the intricate interweaving of such concepts as nationalism, identity, trauma, narrative, and consumer culture within the complex of “American Memories.” In fact, fueled in part by innovations in such diverse ﬁelds as historiography, neuropsychology, museum studies, and political science, the number of panels, conferences, seminars, as well as articles and books published on diﬀerent notions of memory has seen a rise in American studies and other ﬁelds in recent years: ‘Memory’ has become one of the buzzwords in the humanities and social sciences. aspeers 6 (2013) seeks to collect and present the best MA-level work on the topic of “American Memories.”
Concepts and performances of memories and related concepts such as remembering, forgetting, nostalgia, and trauma provide for a wide variety of approaches. Analyses span the ﬁeld from history and social sciences to literary and cultural studies, psychology and philosophy, media and ﬁlm studies, geography, the arts, and others. The sixth issue of aspeers, then, oﬀers unique opportunities for critical thought and analysis in these areas, but also speciﬁcally for interdisciplinary inquiries.
Memories, whether passed on from relatives or evoked in the public sphere, perform crucial cultural work and have tremendous social signiﬁcance. They play and have played a pivotal role in deﬁning American identities. Creating and maintaining collective memories is a question of political and discursive power, an exercise in ideology. This process is essential in nation building, constructing oppositions and animosities, creating heroes, villains, and myths. Personal, communal, and national identities are shaped by what oﬃcial history writing and other discourses about the meaning of the past choose to emphasize. Marginalized groups, in fact, have often framed their struggles for equality as one of correcting omissions in national narratives, of insisting on rewriting national memories.
For the social sciences, the topic of “American Memories” provides particularly fertile grounds for research. History writing at large, of course, oﬀers a huge arena for constant interrogation and renegotiation of processes, constructions, and performances of remembering and forgetting. Moreover, arguments about what constitutes the proper approach to dealing with memories are omnipresent, ranging from politicized debates about monuments to widespread anxieties about digital memory and its consequences for privacy and data protection policies.
As a medium of storytelling, literature, in the broadest sense, creates particularly complex conceptualizations of memories; it can face the past in uniquely creative ways. From the historical novel and the trauma narrative to documentary ﬁlms, alternate histories, and period piece TV shows, (auto)biographies and creative nonﬁction, much, if not all of literature can be said to constitute a self-reﬂexive engagement with the past and modes of memory. In fact, one way of conceptualizing the hotly contested body of works called ‘American literature’ is to regard it as a speciﬁc collection of “American Memories.”
aspeers, the ﬁrst and currently only graduate-level peer-reviewed journal of European American studies, encourages fellow MA students from all ﬁelds to reﬂect on the diverse roles and meanings of memories in American culture. Please note that the contributions we are looking for might address but are not limited to the topical parameters outlined above. We welcome term papers, excerpts from theses, or papers speciﬁcally written for the sixth issue of aspeers by 31 October 2012. If you are seeking to publish work beyond this topic, please refer to our general Call for Papers. Please consult our submission guidelines and ﬁnd some additional tips at www.aspeers.com/2013.